Was Top 25

Junior ace hurler becomes first player in program history to make the Top 10 list for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award

LOUISIANA La. - Once the 2004 season is complete, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns softball pitcher Brooke Mitchell will end up as one of the Top 10 players in the nation.

On Friday, the junior ace hurler from Pasadena, Texas, was named one of the Top 10 finalists for the 2004 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, announced by the Amateur Softball Association and USA Softball.

The award, which is considered the Heisman Trophy in women's collegiate softball and is the only national player of the year award, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.

Mitchell is listed along side others such as Arizona's Alicia Hollowell, Autumn Champion and Caitlin Lowe, Florida State's Jessica van der Linden, Washington's Kristen Rivera and Tennessee's Monica Abbott.

Four players were from the Pac-10, two from the SEC and two from WAC power Fresno State.

Mitchell becomes the first player in program history to reach Top 10 status. Alana Addison was a Top 25 finalist in 2002, but missed the cut when the list was narrowed down to 10.

Three finalists will be announced May 11th, with the winner of the 2004 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award being announced May 26 at the opening ceremonies of the NCAA College World Series in Oklahoma City.

The career and single-season record holder for strikeouts, Mitchell has accounted for 34 of the Cajuns 45 victories this season. She enters this weekend's play against Western Kentucky needing two more wins to set the single season record.

The Pasadena, Texas, native has a 0.51 earned run average and a school-record 410 strikeouts this season. She has allowed just one earned run her last 55 innings of action and has won 12 straight decisions. In Sun Belt play she has not allowed an earned run with 46 strikeouts over 29 1/3 innings.

She has 23 double-digit strikeout performances (out of 38 appearances) to her credit this season and has reached five strikeouts in 35 of 38 outings.

She is one of only 16 players in NCAA Division I history to record 400-plus strikeouts in single season and needs 90 more to become just the fourth player ever to record 500 or more. Her 410 strikeouts is currently the 16th-highest total in the NCAA record books.

Mitchell, an eight-time Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week honoree this season, is averaging over 12 strikeouts per game.

Mitchell currently ranks second in the NCAA stats for earned run average, strikeouts per seven innings and victories.

After missing the past week's action with an injury suffered after being hit by a line drive in a game against FIU April 18, the right-handed hurler is expected to be back in the pitching circle when the Cajuns face Western Kentucky in a key Sun Belt series Saturday-Sunday, May 1-2.

The 10 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, listed in alphabetical order, are:

Monica Abbott - Freshman - University of Tennessee
Autumn Champion - Sophomore - University of Arizona
Christina Clark - Sophomore - Fresno State
Alicia Hollowell - Sophomore - University of Arizona
Caitlin Lowe - Freshman - University of Arizona
Iyhia McMichael - Senior - Mississippi State
Brooke Mitchell - Junior - Louisiana
Kristen Rivera - Junior - University of Washington
Jamie Southern - Junior - Fresno State
Jessica van der Linden - Senior - Florida State